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Nat Commun. 2015 May 8;6:7089. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8089.

Type I interferons regulate eomesodermin expression and the development of unconventional memory CD8(+) T cells.

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WELBIO and Institute for Medical Immunology (IMI), Université Libre de Bruxelles, Gosselies 6041, Belgium.
Department of Systems Biology, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


CD8(+) T-cell memory phenotype and function are acquired after antigen-driven activation. Memory-like cells may also arise in absence of antigenic exposure in the thymus or in the periphery. Eomesodermin (Eomes) is a key transcription factor for the development of these unconventional memory cells. Herein, we show that type I interferon signalling in CD8(+) T cells directly activates Eomes gene expression. Consistent with this observation, the phenotype, function and age-dependent expansion of 'virtual memory' CD8(+) T cells are strongly affected in absence of type I interferon signalling. In addition, type I interferons induce a sustained expansion of 'virtual memory' CD8(+) T cells in an Eomes-dependent fashion. We further show that the development of 'innate thymic' CD8(+) T cells is dependent on the same pathway. In conclusion, we demonstrate that type I interferon signalling in CD8(+) T cells drives Eomes expression and thereby regulates the function and homeostasis of memory-like CD8(+) T cells.

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